Knowing how to encourage someone is my brand. (And apparently, I’m on trend—2023 has been called “the year of the hype women.”) I’m a hype girl at heart. It’s important for me to call out and celebrate when people in my life—coworkers, friends, family—do something amazing, noteworthy, and truly… just cool! (And even if it’s a seemingly normal, run-of-the-mill accomplishment: hype. it. up.) As someone who’s been bogged down by negative self-talk in the past, I know: the best thing we can do for our communities is lift each other up, one encouraging word at a time.
Because here’s the truth: In this world that can be difficult and unforgiving at times, we’re all simply doing our best. We’re each navigating our own challenges, and one of the most transformative things we can be reminded of is the truth that we’re not alone.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
How to Encourage Someone: 7 Effective Tips
If you’re looking to spread a little kindness, remind those you love of their wonderful qualities, and simply make the world a more supportive and hopeful place (yes, the power of encouragement knows no bounds), read on. Ahead, discover tips and opportunities to hype up the people in your life—plus why it’s important to recognize the good in all that we do.
1. Check In With Yourself First
It’s true what they say: You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re in a position of trying to encourage someone, it’s important to make sure you’re in a good place to do so. In the moment, this can look like journaling out your emotions to gain a better understanding of your current headspace. If you’re feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, or stressed by work, it’ll be beneficial to both parties for you to share encouragement from a distance. Rather than committing to a lengthy conversation, send a card, a text, or an email simply knowing that you see them, you’re cheering them on, and you’ll be there for them when you’re ready.
Additionally, this is where self-care comes into play, proving all the more that the adage rings true: self-care isn’t selfish. We do the things that feel supportive and energizing for ourselves so that we can show up most aligned and engaged. Identify three things you can do each day to make you feel like yourself. That could be reading for 10 minutes, taking a brief walk, and making a nourishing meal. Whatever supports you, prioritize exactly that.
People watch and learn from how we treat ourselves, so be sure to always start with kindness and self-compassion.
From there, start by modeling encouraging behaviors and language. Applaud yourself when something goes right and practice patience when you do something wrong. People watch and learn from how we treat ourselves, so be sure to always start with kindness and self-compassion.
2. Celebrate the Small Wins
When it comes to knowing how to encourage someone, this is one of my favorite tips. While we may think that we have to wait until the life-changing milestones hit to be able to hype someone up, it’s actually in the small, everyday accomplishments and achievements that our praise and encouragement matter most.
It’s because the power of recognition can completely transform how someone thinks of themselves. The little things we do—whether it’s appreciating someone’s ability to overcome obstacles in unseen ways or applauding their behind-the-scenes efforts that don’t get factored into the final product—add up. (How you do anything is how you do everything.) So when we consistently make small efforts trusting that we’re seen and appreciated, it can be enough to continuously spark motivation and build momentum in profound ways.
Some ways you can celebrate the small wins include:
- Send a co-worker a Slack congratulating them on completing a weeks-long project.
- Applaud a friend for being present in your conversation.
- Notice how someone creatively expresses themselves.
- Tell a sibling how inspired you are by how they prioritize their hobbies.
3. Practice Effective Listening
Three words: always be present. When it comes to being there for someone—motivating them and lifting them up—your ability to do so effectively comes down to empathy. Effective listening looks like:
- Body language that communicates presence. Turn toward them, make eye contact, and provide non-verbal cues like head nodding to show them you care and are curious.
- Ask questions. Without speaking over them, ask questions that can provide guidance and shape to the internal conflict they’re reflecting on. An effective listener encourages self-reflection.
- Listen without judgment. Your goal is to create space for what’s being said. Rather than influence the conversation’s trajectory, it’s important to allow the person to come to their own conclusions, while still providing encouragement and positivity. It’s a careful balance, but one that’s crucial to master.
4. Express Gratitude
The truth is, we don’t encourage someone just to encourage someone. Yes, offering hype and excitement can be a selfless act, but more often than not, that person’s actions positively impact you. Whether they make you happier or inspire you to grow, posit that encouragement in a statement of gratitude. Some examples can include:
- I’m grateful for the way you always know how to make me laugh.
- I’m so thankful for your capacity for introspection because it helps me reflect and ask how I can improve myself.
- I’m inspired by how your leadership keeps our team on task and motivated.
5. Make It a Habit
The more consistent we are with encouraging others, the easier it becomes to make it a natural, habitual part of our routine. Isn’t it funny how, because we’re often afraid to share how we feel, encouragement may seem awkward or uncomfortable at first? When it comes to encouraging someone, I like to live by the rule that when you notice something, say something.
I’ll admit: I’m a shy, introverted person. I’m much more comfortable keeping to myself than going out of my way to strike up a conversation with someone I don’t know well. And no matter how you see yourself, this is often true for most people. We’d rather move throughout our lives without straying from routine. But when we make encouraging others an everyday, consistent ritual, it becomes a part of our identity, and therefore, all the easier to implement.
If you like someone’s outfit, let them know! Or perhaps you admired their grace and composure in their presentation. Maybe it’s as simple as telling your barista that your morning cappuccino is always *chef’s kiss.* Remember: when you notice something, say something.
6. Be Honest and Authentic
What’s the difference between flattery and actual praise? The latter is excessive and insincere, whereas true encouragement is honest and authentic. Trust me: When you’re complimenting someone to further your own interests (or simply to feel better about yourself), it comes through—and people will know.
Part of the benefit of orienting your life toward encouragement is that you begin to notice opportunities for it wherever you go. When you make it a habit (see above), you begin to feel grateful for the small ways people positively impact you and how their presence alone is a gift. So be honest with yourself and others, and authentically, truthfully, and positively lift them up.
7. Remember: It Always Makes a Difference
I used to think, They wouldn’t care if I told them how much their work meant to me. Or, It’s weird if I tell them how inspiring I find their content on social media. I’ll leave you with these parting words: encouragement never goes unnoticed. So share the compliment with the stranger. Send a kind Slack to your co-worker. Write a loving note to your partner and slip it in their work bag. With each word of kindness and support, we build a more caring and compassionate community around us.